Friday, January 8, 2010

WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON: fundamentalist nut jobs on the march

If ever a movie screamed "religious nuts" at the top of its lungs, that would be WAITING FOR ARMAGEDDON, the absolutely straight-forward documentary from Kate Davis, (below, center) David Heilbroner (below, right) and Franco Sacchi (below, left). And yet this film barely raises its voice. It is content to let speak for itself that branch of the Christian-fundamen-
talist-right that is waiting for, praying for and perhaps helping to bring about a kind of Armageddon or, as they prefer to call it, The Rapture -- in which the world and everyone in it dies. Except, of course, for those who believe in Jesus. "Who wouldn't want the world to be over?" asks one believer. "Who wouldn't want to meet Jesus?" Talk about hubris. Talk about pyrrhic victories. Yikes.

The worst part of all, for this viewer, at least, is that some of these "believers" -- one sweet young, bring-it-on couple -- have jobs cre-
ating our missiles for U.S. warfare and defense. (With all the down-
sizing currently going on, couldn't we perhaps apply it where it does some good?) While the mother and father of another family insist that all things point to the Big A coming soon, two of their children -- teenage daughters -- indicate their belief that it will come, but maybe, uh... not too soon. These poor girls want a life that includes love, marriage and children. And who can blame them?

But, no -- for these folk, any nincompoop quote from The Bible turns every crazy belief, no matter how destructive, into fact. How happy faith can make you! Too bad that faith rarely seems to provide some kind of recognition of all the things we humans share and need in common. No: It has to be instead this consistently divisive, my-way-or-the-highway thinking. And when the movie, briefly, gives a us a quick look at some of the Christian fundamentalist politicians now (or recently) in power, the effect is a stunner.

One on-screen idiot talks about having the best seat in the house to watch the coming destruction of planet earth. Oh, the glee! And then we travel to Israel, where Christians want to get a look at Jerusalem before god has his way with it. It turns out that millions of dollars are raised by the fundamentalist Christian community and given to Israel for its protection against Islam -- which of course Israel happily accepts. We hear from Christians, Jews and Muslims -- each with the same rationale for possessing Jerusalem. They can't all be right, but it seems to occur to no one that they could all be wrong. Perhaps the most dispiriting information we learn is that any peace plan for the middle east is perceived by these people as a plot of the AntiChrist. Maybe they'll stumble upon Lars von Trier's film, have a much-needed epiphany, and go after each other with scissors and shovel! Ooops -- that wasn't very Christian of me, was it. Actually, if you're basing your actions on this fundamentalist version of Jesus' teachings, it pretty much is.

Listening to the stupid drivel spouted by Rapture-believers grows grueling after awhile. And though rational people (a few of which are heard from in the film) can easily dispel these faith-based theories, it is daunting to realize that millions of Americans are guided by this hogwash. One of the more rational speakers in the film explains cogently that the Bible's more apocalyptic books -- Revelations and Daniel, for instance -- were never meant to be scripts for those in power. "That's where the danger arises and the books become a self-fulfilling prophecy of violence and destruction."

Waiting for Armageddon, from First Run Features, debuts today, January 8, in New York at the Cinema Village. Further play dates around the country can be found here.

All photos are courtesy of First Run Features
and are -- with the exception of the ones
of the filmmakers -- from the film itself.

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